It’s George Zimmerman’s defense team’s turn to put forth their case, and quite frankly, they have a fairly easy path ahead. The wind is at their backs because no real, compelling evidence was brought before the jury by the prosecution in their initiative phase of this kangaroo charade (because none actually exists).
Nonetheless, despite the lack of evidence against the accused, rather than issue a judgment of acquittal last Friday, the judge punted the whole matter onward, and eventually toward the jury phase. So now we watch attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West solidify the fortress of exculpatory factors for their client. Meanwhile, prosecutors can only make rather vain displays of flailing stabs at discrediting defense witness’ statements, while trying to throw out evidence & throw up procedural blocks to the defense.
This having been the first full day of defense testimony in this unsavory spectacle of prosecutorial misconduct, it started off featuring witness after witness taking the stand to swear that the voice of someone yelling desperately for help on the 911 call recording which has come to be known as the “Lauer tape” (after the last name of the witness who made the phone call) is that belonging to George Zimmerman.
The parade of highly competent defense witnesses making that same testimony actually began late last Friday, after the prosecution rested its case and the judge denied a defense motion for a Judgement of Acquittal based on lack of evidence against their client (earlier that day, Trayvon Martin’s mother and older brother had claimed it is Trayvon’s voice).
At the end of Friday’s drama, Zimmerman’s mother and uncle briefly took the stand in the first volley of the defense phase, and both stated very firmly and with steadily-controlled passion that it is George’s voice screaming on the tape. Their statements, delivered in thick “Spanglish” accents, seemed to come from a visceral level, and evoked visible reaction from Zimmerman himself, to the point where his eyes appeared to be tearing up while locked onto his uncle–a former U.S. Army command sergeant major and current sheriff’s deputy–speaking forcefully of his role in George’s early life, and of his adamant conviction about the subject of his testimony; that his nephew is the one yelling over and over for help on the tape.
This morning’s developments saw and heard no less than five close friends of Zimmerman, at least two of whom have direct past experience hearing Zimmerman’s voice yelling loudly at multiple political rallies, support his story. Furthermore, at least two also testified that the kinds of profanity used by Zimmerman on his calls to police non-emergency dispatch did not, in their view, indicate ill will, hatred, nor the depraved state of mind required for a charge of second-degree murder.
Remember, the police dispatcher himself said the same thing on the witness stand last week–that Zimmerman’s comments about “these a**holes always get away” and “f***ing punks” were, in his six years’ experience as a 911 dispatcher, fairly normal remarks, of the type which often come from ordinary citizens calling police to report suspicious activity.
Zimmerman’s friend from last week, federal air marshal Mark Osterman, was again on the stand, describing how no law enforcement agency (that he knows of) has a policy which allows any officer to carry out duties without having a live round in the chamber of their weapon, and that the lack of an external safety on a semi-automatic pistol is not necessarily a safety feature in all circumstances. (for what it’s worth, I can corroborate what Osterman says, from a professional standpoint.)
Adding fuel to the fire in the belly of the defense juggernaut, encore performances were given by both of the Sanford police detectives who’d already been called to testify for the state last week, Doris Singleton and Chris Serino.
Singleton and Serino both testified that upon playing the Lauer tape for Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, he had said in their presence that it is not his son’s voice screaming.
Later, when Tracy Martin himself was called to the witness stand by Mark O’Mara, he told a different story than Singleton and Serino did: Martin swore that he had at that time said instead that he couldn’t tell whether it was Trayvon’s voice or not. He also acknowledged that he changed his position later on, claiming that the voice is Trayvon’s.